Bahamas Recovery After Dorian: Supporting Unique Needs of Islands

Curated by Brennan Banks

The Bahamas: Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama Island

A tornado sitting on top of the islands for nearly two days, paired with constant torrential rains and massive storm surge -- that describes Hurricane Dorian and helps us better appreciate the magnitude of its impact on the people and places in the northern Bahamas.

From my experience in the small island of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma in 2017, it must be said that this will be a disaster response and recovery fraught with challenges.

There is a great deal to overcome with the logistics of small islands that now have no, or significantly compromised, infrastructure including:

- Establishment of sea and air pipelines. This will be priority number one in order to evacuate people with critical injuries or life-threatening health conditions, while allowing for initial resources to facilitate desperately needed search and rescue operations, as well as the start of recovery efforts.
- Access to safe water. This is a critical emergency need now and in the coming months until systems are restored and wells decontaminated. Like many small Caribbean islands, Bahamians rely on cisterns and water harvesting where piped water does not exist.
- Debris management. The massive piles of debris, along with items like water bottles that come onto the islands will stay on the islands. It’s too expensive to ship off by barge making debris management a considerable task as residents move toward recovery.

And there are more personal tolls:
- Mental Health. Consider the psychological impact of being forced to huddle in the dark while water rises around you—hearing the never-ending howl of 185+ mph hurricane force winds for 24-48 hours. And in the aftermath, coping with loss of family or friends, homes and livelihoods. The shock that individuals have gone through will require long-term programs to help the affected population overcome the trauma they have experienced. Children and youth are acutely more vulnerable to post-traumatic stress syndrome after such a devastating event.
- Downsized Communities. When people evacuate a small island, the longer they stay away, the harder it is to return. Family members, friends, neighbors separated take a personal toll plus when the population decreases substantially, there are impacts on schools, workforce and morale within communities.

This is a sampling of the huge challenges ahead and the priority recovery needs for the Bahamas over the coming days, weeks and many, many months. I encourage everyone to support our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas. They will need us today, tomorrow and in the years ahead to fully recover.

Nonprofits in this fund



Logistics for Bahamas Recovery

Washington DC 20005 US

One of the biggest challenges in dealing with disaster recovery on islands is the ability to quickly and efficiently get personnel and materials where they are needed most. In my experience, Airlink is a valuable partner, committed to helping communities in crisis -- focused on responding efficiently and well. Once critical supplies and people are in place, the long process of recovery can begin.

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

CDP 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Disaster Recovery Fund, Hurricane Dorian

Washington DC 20005 US

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is the only full-time resource dedicated to helping donors make more strategic decisions about disaster giving. What we know is that with the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters comes the critical need for knowing when and how to respond effectively.

CDP’s innovative strategies, including the CDP 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund, increase the impact of your contributions to meet the needs of vulnerable populations and ultimately strengthen communities by helping them recover and become more resilient.

1. CDP invests locally so your donations will reach and positively impact many organizations working hard on the ground in the Bahamas. I know from experience these are the groups who intimately know their communities and will be there through the long recovery process. These local organizations are experts in the demographics, culture, traditions and policies in their respective communities. This means donations are effectively deployed where they are needed most.

2. CDP will perform its standard, comprehensive due diligence process on these local organizations, ensuring donor dollars are invested well.

3. CDP always works with a team of local experts and advisory committees that know the areas affected, the issues identified and the actors involved after a disaster to assess the long-term recovery needs and make grants accordingly.

Team Rubicon

Team Rubicon

Bahamas Recovery: Debris Clean Up

El Segundo CA 90045 US

Debris clean up is a major step in the process of disaster recovery. And it is a monumental task. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans generated 30 years of trash in only 3 years.

Team Rubicon pairs military veterans with first responders and local community members, bringing expertise to the process of clean up. On the islands, it is absolutely crucial that clean up is handled appropriately to protect their fragile ecosystems. I've worked alongside Team Rubicon and have witnessed their strength and their heart.

Disclosure: Brennan Banks is the director of recovery funds at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Brennan Banks's giving strategy

After disasters, I believe it's important to work with community stakeholders to identify long term recovery priorities as well as needs and gaps in funding. This allows for the mobilization of resources to experienced humanitarian partners and local groups that are best positioned to implement recovery programs over multiple years.
It is also important to give specific attention to underserved communities and groups that might otherwise be overlooked.
I'd say my overall strategy is to assist with building effective partnerships for the benefit of the entire communities’ recovery.

About Brennan Banks

I’ve been on the ground in over 25 countries including the Philippines, Liberia, Belize, Nigeria and Barbuda. I’ve seen the efficiency and commitment of local, grassroots organizations working to address the needs of their people after disasters.

Yet recovery is where our collective attention fades and available resources shrink. As with all disasters, the task of recovery seems tremendous, but it is with focus, dedication and a generosity of spirit that does recovery come.

In my current role, I follow communities during the long-term recovery process and mobilize resources from the philanthropic world to support them. This is gratifying because what we know for a fact is that individuals who are vulnerable before disasters are disproportionately impacted after disasters. My humanitarian heart is drawn to speak up and work for those whose lives are dramatically and irrevocably changed by disasters -- it is my duty and my calling.

5 years of grantmaking experience

Experience at Center for Disaster Philanthropy

More about Brennan Banks